Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Unexpected

A few days ago I wrote about a quote from Grace for the Good Girl, talking about a "God-breathed tempo" is to "cherish the unexpected."  This quote came to mind this morning.  As mentioned last night, I have a packed schedule this week... lots to do before classes start on the 13th, and Holly's wedding.  So this morning I woke up, read my Bible and had my quiet time, did my hour walk, and hit the road running.  Literally... well, not me running. But my car. 

Drop Caleb off to visit Grandma Na, nails done, drive home to pick something up for Wallace.  Ticking off in my head and having Caleb write me a list because I am so forgetful.  And at the bottom of Shoulderblade Hill we sit.  And sit.  And sit.  As they blacktop... I can feel my blood pressure raise slowly as I'm thinking of all I still need to do.  And then that voice speaks... whispers, in my head.  "Cherish the unexpected."

Because the little boy sitting in the front seat next to me was talking a mile a minute.  We laughed. He talked some more.  He was singing, and asking questions, and pondering about school.  And breathing, full of life.  Mine... in this moment, a gift from God.

We got over Shoulderblade Hill and continued on our way... Rose Bros to pick up tuxes and Hazard for Applebees, a trip to Walmart, and a haircut, before I headed back to stop at the church and help move tables and boxes.  And the whole way he talked.  A big hug as I headed back to church...

And as we decorated for the wedding, the most joyous occassion, the solemn thought of another family in our community crossed my mind.  A 16 year old laying in a casket, a team of football players meeting in the den in the morning,  not for practice, but donning their jerseys and loading on a bus to ride to the funeral home to bid one of their teammates goodbye. 

Ah... yes, cherishing the unexpected.  And  praying for those who can't at this moment.  Thank You, God for Your blessings, and for opening my eyes yet again.  And if you are reading this, please say a prayer for Leighann, Ricky, and their family, and for all of our Bobcat family.  I know I'll be thinking of them... His grace is sufficient... even when we can't imagine it. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

The End of Summer

Today has been a Monday all day long... busy, busy, busy!  Started my day at 730 AM, got home at 815 PM.  Walked for 45 minutes. I have 115 unread emails in my mailbox.  Many of them have things that I need to do.  And did I mention that my contract says I start back to work on August 1?  And Caleb is starting back to school?  And that I officially start the doctoral program at WKU on that same day? And that my sister is getting married on August 4th? 

Syllabus... lecture notes with new books... coursework for school... my list could go on and on.  I'm sure you're the same way.  The summer heat lures us into ambivalence...even though I worked almost full time this summer, I still soaked in the laziness.  So tonight, my mind is racing...

And I am telling it to stop.  Maybe you need to do the same.  Because regardless of how bad we want to change it, we only have 24 hours in a day.  We're not supposed to do everything.  We are only supposed to do God's thing.  So even though I'm creating my to do list in my head for tomorrow as I type, I'm not going to write it down until tomorrow morning... because once I make it official, I'll start planning in my head how I'm going to get it all accomplished and then the next thing I know I'm up all night contemplating.  That being said, I'm signing off here right now... because it's been a Monday too long and I don't even want to think about tomorrow.  Or the next day. 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."- Matthew 6:34

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday LIght...

May the Son shine bright on you as we begin a new week. May you always be able to see the forest, even in the middle of a clump of trees, seeing the bigger picture and knowing that even if you can't, God can. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. Psalm 112:4

Friday, July 27, 2012

When Striving Isn't Good Enough

Today I finished Emily Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl.  I'm taking big deep breaths because those last two chapters I really needed. Really.  Needed...

"I can work hard all day and still get nothing done."- Freeman. As I'm writing this, I'm looking around at my living room, where shoes are fanned out all over the floor.  Glance to the left and the clothes are folded, but piled so high in the laundry basket that they just may spill over.  My mind is racing with all the things I  have to do by next week.... classes start in two weeks and I still have to complete my syllabus, calendar, get stuff uploaded on blackboard, and redo lecture notes because we have a new book to use. My heart gets palpitations easily, and even though I try not to get overwhelmed... well, I just can't help it. 

And this is before anything has ever had the chance to go wrong... and before any of those unexpected things get in the way.  I'm one of those gals who loves her to do list.  I try to plan when I'm going to tackle certain things... but then the phone rings.  Or I get an email that I have to answer.  Or I spill a pop and I have to stop to clean it up.  Or someone stops by my office and just wants to chat... you get the picture.  But what Freeman wrote in chapter 17 is this... "The tempo of a God-breathed life" is to "cherish the unexpected."

A God-breathed life... because really, that's all we've got.  We can strive and try to make it go our way all we want to.  Head down, battle stance ready, and before we know it we are emotionally and physically exhausted because we're fighting a battle that we don't even have to.  God-breathed... He literally breathed life into us and He is doing it every day, but I don't stop to appreciate that. 

Instead, I get all caught up in how things are going wrong and in how I feel.  Freeman addresses that, too, in Chapter 18. "I can't count on feelings because they aren't always right."  Feelings change... we all know that.  One minute we are up, happy as can be, and in an instant we can be knocked on the ground. This is especially true for good-girl doers like me who become so overwhelmed by that to do list, and stressed by the unexpected.  Feelings like, "I can't handle this.  I'm incompetent. What am I even doing here?" enclose me and choke out the truth.  The truth that says, "He's enough.  I can do all things through Him.  He has a plan for me.  He knows me.  He is with me." 

Freeman says we must CHOOSE to embrace the truth rather than our feelings.  "Jesus is the radical, absolutely completed living answer to all our if-onlys and if-I-could-justs.  His unwavering, unchanging, unconditional love and acceptance of us is what we are really looking for."  That's the truth... despite feeling like we need so much more sometimes.  As a striver, it is hard to recognize that for me to finally get what I need, I just need to be.  To live in the moment.  To appreciate what He did for me on the cross.  To accept it, freely, no strings attached.  Because nothing I can do can ever make it better.  I can never do anything to make Him love me anymore than He already does, right now. 

So striving isn't good enough... it never is, never was.  Striving is unnecessary.  Instead, conforming, and allowing Him to reshape... Him doing the work, me being a conduit for His grace to shine through. 

" A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance."- John 10:10, HCSB


The thunder rolls... the sound echoes down deep within me.  The TV is on, but not loud enough to hide the sound of the rain pounding on the tin.  Depending on my mood, I love storms or hate them.  I dislike driving in them, and if I'm not at home I really don't care for them.  But tonight, as I sit here on my couch under my blanket, this storm is okay.  We need the rain.  Hopefully, this will help with the smothering humidity.  And this weather goes perfectly with how I'm feeling tonight.

Sometimes I'm just not sure about myself.  I'll be going along, full of joy and happiness, loving God and loving myself and feeling Pollyanna about life.  Then, in what seems like meer seconds, I'm at the bottom trying to dig myself out, only to find that every handful of dirt only covers me deeper.  Storms rage in my mind... Flashes of lightning highlighting all that is wrong and thunderous words of self-doubt drown out God's promises...

I'm at a place in life where change is definite and I'm realizing I'm not getting any younger.  It's hard when you wake up at 32 and realize that you're no longer a kid, you're an adult with responsibliites and maybe you've got false expectations.  Life isn't fun sometimes, and sometimes we find ourselves in a place where we don't know... surrounded by people we don't know anymore.  We grow... we become new, and it's hard to recognize the past.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and say, "How did I become this person?  Where did this girl come from?"  Fifteen years ago, when I graduated high school, I had dreams and hopes... and now those look different.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.  And realizing that not every story is going to have a happy ending is important.  We were put on this earth for one thing... to glorify God.  Sometimes, that's messy.  Sometimes, we royally screw up, and end up doing anything but bring Him glory. Sometimes, we get so caught up in how we think life is supposed to look that we lose sight of who is giving us life. 

But He's there.  And He's not forgot about us.  His dreams are bigger than anything we could possibly dream up ourselves.  He desires joy unspeakable and full of glory, even though all we have to offer is filthy rags.  He is real... even in the storms. Especially in the storms. We just have to stop letting the thunder and lightning distract us... because that's what the devil is trying to do.  Those lightning flashes and thunder roars deceive us from remembering that there is a rainbow after the storm... the Son will shine and our time here will be inconsequential as we embrace an eternity of security and love... with the One who never changes, and who loved us enough to die for us...

So if you're having one of those evenings, wallow with me for a few minutes... but then look up.  It won't be like this forever... and pretty soon those storm clouds will be moving out.  Instead of thunder, we'll be hearing a voice likened unto many waters, and the Son's light will be enough to radiate forever. 

"For I have loved you with an everlasting love..." Jeremiah 31:3- A love that lasts, even through the storms...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quiet Time?

8 AM on a Wednesday morning... have to go into work later but no rush.  I'm looking forward to diving into my Bible, getting caught up on my Nehemiah study and my Chronological Bible reading (I'm a day behind... which can easily turn into two days). 

Caleb spent the night with Papaw and Nana last night so I trek across the yard between our houses.  Papaw has to run some errands in town and go to the doctor, which is why I am not going into work until later.  No sense waking Caleb up...

A beautiful sunny day.  Perfect for relaxing in the quiet shade of Papaw and Nana's porch and reading God's Word... getting it in my soul so that I can take it with me and draw on it all day...

And there, sitting on the couch, is Caleb.  New ringtones blaring from his Iphone, texting away... my plans for quiet time going down the drain.  And then my phone is ringing and I answer it and get lost in the conversation... so lost that I'm frantically searching through my bag to find the very phone I'm holding to my ear.

Yes, quiet time is what I need.  It's not necessarily what I'll get, but I do read a little of Proverbs and a session of Nehemiah with the ringtones blaring and Caleb pacing with his Ipad in hand, facetiming with a friend.  And this is my lesson on this already somewhat crazy morning... It's easy to get lost in the quiet time.  God wants to be our priority.  Sometimes, though, quiet just doesn't happen, and we get shuffled around in the chaos of what we call life.  It's then that we are truly tested.  God's Word is still God's Word even if I don't get to sit down and read it by myself... and it still has the same truth.  It's easy to believe it when it's just me, and a quiet breeze, and the sunshine... much harder when it's loud and noisy... but that's when we need to cling to it most.  That's when we need to take a deep breath, shake off our anxiety, and let God be God. 

Epic fail for quiet time on this Wednesday morning... maybe tomorrow I'll make it up before him.  However, he was singing loudly, and is there anything better than hearing a kid give it all he's got?  After all, it won't be long before he won't want to be in the same room with me, so I'd better enjoy it while I can =)

Have a blessed Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gifts of Sand... Even In the Mountains

Since January, I've been participating in the Joy Dare, Ann Voskamp's dare for us to live fully by giving thanks. Since reading her book 1000 gifts, my eyes have been open to the importance of the little things.  Most days, I follow her suggestions of small things to be thankful for... but some days I'm just not that creative, so I end up writing the same old stuff... house, family, love, etc.  Today, when I saw it was gifts of sand... Hmmm.  Where am I going to come up with these here in Eastern Kentucky?  No sandy beaches to look at here...

But then I am reminded of the jar I took to my office at Lees.  Filled with sand from one of my very favorite places on earth, Myrtle Beach, and seashells I collected, I brought this home so that I can be reminded that the same peace I feel when walking on the shore can be found right there in my office.  I've got it displayed prominently in my window...  cause sometimes I really need that reminder.

And then there's something else brought back from the beach, this one from North Carolina, where a couple of my cousins are stationed with the Marines.  This seashell  necklace is simple... our "Redneck Island" necklace that my cousin Rhett made each of us to wear at Green River last week.  It's hanging on the corkboard in my office, directly in front of my desk, a reminder that family is what's most important, and also a reminder to pray for our military men and women. 

And lastly, as I've sat and reflected on sand, I'm amazed by the very bigness of God.  This gift of  Him... He's numbered the very granules of sand... yet He takes time to intimately know me.  I could never count the immense number of sand, but He can.  He has.  And just as He makes the waves wash against the sand, He has control of me... all my circumstances. 

So, yes, I can count gifts of sand, even here in Eastern Kentucky. Because God is good, and His grace is sufficient...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Psalm 25

A few weeks ago Beth Moore wrote about women struggling on her blog. She encouraged others to join her and a friend in memorizing Psalm 25.  I was working on Psalm 119:129-135 at the time, so I'm actually just now getting started. 

Sometimes I do pretty good on memorizing scripture.  I can usually remember at least a couple of words of the verse.  It's just like anything else, practice makes perfect. The more I read, the more I can remember.  The more I remember, the more I live it. 

I've read many different suggestions on how to help you memorize.  I'm one of those learners that has to write things over and over.  One suggestion I read on another blog involves note cards I think it was Heather Bleier at Revolt... but I'm just not sure). I've been writing the verses I'm wanting to remember on a notecard, and sticking it in my planner (if you know me, you know I don't go far without my planner!)  Then, throughout the day, I pull the card out and read over it.  I've been circling key words and looking them up on dictionary.com, and then writing any of my thoughts about the verse on the back.  It's a great way to really get the verse in my head ALL day long =)

So, Psalm 25... What gets me about God's Word is that something simple can be so profound. My verse today, Psalm 25:1.... "In you, Lord my God, I put my trust."  In the NLT, "O Lord, I give my life to you."

One sentence, few words, but worth everything.  It's all Yours, God... and I'm not even going to worry about it anymore.  Amen and amen =)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Longings

"A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God. I'm thirsty for God-alive. I wonder, "Will I ever make it— arrive and drink in God's presence?" - Psalm 42:1-2 The Message

Here's hoping that your Sunday is full of you finding that God-alive. Like the deer looking for water, He is our refreshment. He is the creator of all things... and He is where we can find Him. Aren't you glad?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Random Ramblings

After a busy past few days, driving from Jackson to Columbia and back and then to Lexington and then  back to Jackson with a "shortcut" (ok, we missed the exit) through Mt. Sterling, this girl is ready for bed... but since I've been trying to write a little something most days I thought I'd just jot down a few random thoughts before I lay down.

1. If you have a Kindle, try the free books.  I have so many that I've downloaded that I will probably never get them read, and for the most part the ones I've read have been wonderful.  And, if you have an ipod or Iphone, try goodreads.  I've not got it all figured out, but I like the fact that you can scan books and keep track of them... I'm always seeing ones that I'd like to read but don't have anything to write them down, so this keeps track of it for me.
2. If you've never had a facial, you must get one.  I never imagined it'd be as awesome as it was.  The room was dark, and I got totally relaxed and fell asleep.  Plus, my face feels so clean!  I only wish I could have had a massage as well... maybe next time. Girl time with Holly and the other bridesmaids was the best!  Game night last night in the hotel, and then today a fun filled day with blueberry pancakes from Bob Evans for breakfast, a trip to the spa, and then a visit to the mall.  Memories made =)
3. Enjoy your Sabbath day tomorrow.  I get to help Aunt Lisa Gross work on the Woman's Club book after church, but I'm hoping to get in a walk and a little time reading.  If it's sunny, maybe I'll take a dip in the pool, too.
4. Take time to snuggle.  I'm getting ready to do just this with the best boy in the world.  We only have one week of "freedom" left! 

So, that's what's going on in my head tonight.  Totally random... but I'm a little tired =)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Family Times...

Thrift store shopping and Uno and fishing and noodling and swimming and sunbathing...

Catching up when you only see them once a year, if you are lucky...

Various ages and three generations and enough miles between them to span the nation (and at one time... we were... from coast to coast).

These are the times I live for.  Summer only comes once a year and with it the annual trek to Green River from  Michigan and North Carolina and Eastern Kentucky and sometimes New Mexico.  Different faces each year, but with the same stories...

Stories of Pap when he drank and liked to hide the cards under his leg so he would win, and of Mamaw Mary quarreling about him quoting the good  book.  Me, too young to really remember them, but remembering the big front porch... and the upstairs balcony, the tiny stairs that seemed forever steep to my six-year old legs. 

And Kyle.. sneaking the cards under his leg... Rheagan, the Uno Card shark who beat Kami "all four times". 

Riley and Caleb, from two seperate states, who probably wouldn't even know each other, kept close through facebook.  Sam and Kami, one year apart in age, both tall and slender and such pretty girls.  And we invaded the thrift store, with one dressing room, picking out clothes for each other. Aunt June laughing her girlish laugh and her "boyfriend", Uncle Sonny waiting patiently in the van.

No campfire this year for us, or fishing... we got there too late in the week and thunderstorms rained us out.  Me, Dad, and Caleb laughing as we ran through the rain and the lightning from Aunt June's cabin (although Caleb calls her Memaw and Uncle Sonny Pepaw...) But there was still laughter and porch swinging and sitting, swimming in the lake and trying to balance on the "pole" marking the swimming area on the beach.  Tiny Riley, blonde as blonde can be, and Caleb, twice her size, balancing, balancing, until they splashed into the water in a fit of giggles.

Family... shared venues for this one week, and sad hugs and goodbyes until next year...

Thank You, Lord, for Green River Lake and for this time of the year... where I remember where I came from, and whom I came from...and the Giver of Life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Failure is Not the End of the World

"One of the good girls most basic fears is failure."- Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl

I can't do this... so I don't even try.  If I can't do it well, what's the use?  Fear of failure has kept me from experiencing life as I could.  I'm afraid people won't like me.  I'm afraid I'll look stupid (that's a big one).  I'm afraid... of being afraid.  Now that.  Is.  Deep.

Freeman talked about this avoidance because of fear in chapter 16 of her book... I'm reading it along with scores of other women and chatting about it on Facebook.  They don't know anything about me... will never meet me in public.  So yeah, I'm not afraid to talk to them about my fear of failure.  I'm pretty sure not many people will read this blog, so I'm safe there... which gives me the permission to try.

I'm one of those girls who has a comfort zone mapped out directly around her body.  Mine includes my couch.  It also includes my bed, and occasionally my office at work.  I know what is expected there.  I don't have to worry about something that I'm unfamiliar with.  Reading and surfing the internet and folding clothes... yeah, I know how to do those things.  (Which doesn't explain why I don't like folding clothes).  Being a Mom and and a wife and a Christian?  Well, sometimes I'm not sure how those things look.  And that means I have to step out of my comfort zone... try new things, different things.  Putting away the old Lauren has been an endless process, but I'm daily peeling her back to let the reformed, transformed, redeemed one shine through.  Thank God that He is patient... and long-suffering!

This explains why for my first month as an RN I wanted to throw up every time I drove to the hospital. What if something was going on with my patients that I didn't understand?  What if I missed something?  I'd surely be a failure... and being a failure is the worst thing.

Or is it?  Failure can actually be a good thing... it lets me see my weakness.  Now my old, comfort zone sitting Lauren is saying... "How can knowing you're weak be a good thing?" Because... if I don't know I'm weak then I can't fix it.  Fixing things is a hallmark characteristic of my comfort zone good girl... because when things are fixed, all is right in the world.  Failure lets us see our limits... but also allows us to see the One who is limitless.  Through Him, we can be strong... and work on our areas where we don't measure up. 

"We can't make life work the way we want."- Freeman.  As much as I want to plan out Caleb's future, I can't.  As much as I want to dictate Wallace's thoughts and make him be the way I want him to be, he is who he is.  As much as I'd love to have a happy ending to this thing called life, sometimes it's hard.  It's supposed to be.  (Thanks, Mama Eve.  On a side note, Caleb and I were discussing the whole fallen world and life is hard thing yesterday.  "Why do we have to have bad things?" he asked.  "Because Eve ate the apple and sin happened and we have to endure hard things because of sin." I explained.  Great answer, hmm?  "Well.   I wish she would die." He exclaimed.  "Um... Caleb, she did.  And we have to, too... That's what the whole punishment was about.")

Anyway, life is hard.  Times are tough.  But we have hope... Hope of a Savior.  Christ in us.  "If your life is hidden with Christ in God, then failure loses the power it used to have over you."

Loses its power. Failure... fails.  Frees me from my comfort zone.  Allows me to take a step into the unknown without being afraid of looking stupid, or wrong.  Failure isn't the end of the world. Sometimes, it's the beginning of a whole new life... of freedom =) grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Merry Heart

There's something about Caleb's laugh that makes me warm inside.  He is such a funny kid...

Like today when he told me I looked like our car.  Really? Where do you get that?  I said, "So are you saying I'm dirty?" and he said, "Um... yeah."  And then there was that laugh.

Last night we had a tickle fight.  He won, hands down.  Moms somehow seem to get tired too easy... this Mom does, anyway.  That sneaky boy was still laughing and tickling, even as I swiped his hand away. 

Laughing at TV shows... some that I think are funny. Some that I don't.  But it's always there, that warm laugh that starts low but reaches down to his belly.  His eyes crinkle up and sometimes we laugh so hard that we cry. 

Laughter is the best medicine. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).  I'll take a cup of Caleb's laugh anytime over some kind of elixer.  He's the cure for my troubles...

Thank You, God, for my funny man-child.  May he continue to be able to laugh, and may he never lose that childlike appreciation for a good tickle contest...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Packed Schedule

Ever notice that when you want something to happen, it seems like it takes forever, but when you don't it's here before you know it?  As I'm writing this, I can't believe that July is halfway over.  I'll be heading back to work and Caleb back to school in less than a month... but before we ge in the swing of the busyness of work and school, we have some things to look forward to...

Every year, my Griffith cousins gather at Green River Lake in Taylor County for some Kentucky family fun.  My Papaw Paul's sister June and her family, including kids, grandkids, and this year a great-grand travel from Michigan to fish, tube, swim, and have campfires with their Kentucky cousins.  My dad's cousin Kyle orchestrates the whole event and there is usually a whole gang of us.  This makes the third or fourth year Caleb and I have went with Mom and Dad and I must say it is something I look forward to every year.  Most of the cousins are older than me, but it is so cool to see Caleb hanging out with their kids.  We've connected through Facebook and stay in touch throughout the year.  I enjoy the slow pace of the lake. There is little internet and phone service, and it usually rains at least one of the days we stay, so I enjoy a day on the porch swing relaxing.  It's also good to spend time with my Mom and Dad... not that I don't see them here, but let's face it, we all stay busy.

Then, there's our bridesmaid excursion to Lexington. We're all going to spend the night and go to Posh the next day to get facials!  I'm so excited!!!! I'm also planning a trip to Half-Price books, and Lifeway Christian store, but I'm going to try  not to be too demanding since it is all about Holly =)  I do think we'll try to do breakfast at Bob Evans or IHop, because Kami has been wanting crepes all summer and hasn't gotten them yet. 

Then, I head to Western for three days to start my doctoral program.  Not sure if this is really something that I am anticipating, because I'm a little nervous, but it's a good nervous.  I'm excited.  This is something that is on my bucket list, and I know that while it will be difficult, it will also be rewarding. 

And then, finally, the week after school starts, Miss Holly Michelle walks down the aisle and becomes a Mrs.  I've got to get some stuff done before then... and have to start walking in my sparkly high heel shoes which Caleb announced, "Don't look like you, Mama."  It's going to be interesting to say the least...

I know that the rest of this summer will fly by.  Somewhere in there I've got to fit in some more reading, movie watching, and swimming with my best boy.  Guess I'd better get off here and get some rest =)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Help

"I will lift my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

Even in the fog, He is there.  Though the climb to the mountain is steep and hard, the view is totally worth it. 

May your Sunday be filled with rest from your weary climb... laughter along the journey... and the assurance that God is always with us, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 136)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Psalm 136- Forever

The fog was hanging down this morning when I went for my walk.  I usually am not up at 5
AM, but this morning I just couldn't sleep, so I went ahead and got up.  Read my Bible.  Did some thinking.  And as soon as the sun started peeking through I took out for my morning walk.  There's something about seeing that little bit of golden sunshine leaking through the fog that lifted my soul, because in our darkness, His love shines through.  As I walked, I searched through the songs on my Ipod to find the ones that really spoke of God's love.  Sometimes a girl just needs a reminder.  As I was almost finished, I came across Chris Tomlin's Forever.  Midway through the song, he starts reciting Psalm 136.  I wasn't sure what Psalm it was, so when I got in the house, I looked it up.  Love this:
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.  Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.  Give thanks to the Lord of lords:  His love endures forever.  to him who alone does great wonders,  His love endures forever. 5 who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.  who spread out the earth upon the waters,  His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights His love endures forever. 8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever. 9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever...23 He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever. 24 and freed us from our enemies.  His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever. "
(verses 10-22 talk about all God did for the Israelites.  I didn't include them because it would be a long passage... but it's a great chapter). 

He is good.  He is the God of gods... there is none like Him.  He does great wonders... miracles and heart changes.  He made the heavens and the earth... have you ever stopped to wonder what keep clouds in the sky?  Or how the land of islands just kind of float in the middle of the sea?  He knows... He made the great lights, a bright sunshine and moons and stars... And then this verse, the whole reason why I was prompted to look up this Psalm- "He remembered us in our low estate."

Estate- period in a person's life.  Sometimes, we just get down in the dumps.  We are lower than low.  It might be because of something stupid we've done or something stupid someone else has done to us.  Sometimes, people hurt our feelings.  We allow ourselves to get our props knocked out from underneath us, or sometimes we can fight as hard as we can and still find ourselves knocked down. No matter how we got there, though, He sees us.  He knows us... and He remembers us.  He doesn't leave us down there (unless we want to stay... and let's admit it, sometimes we grovel in our misery for a while...) In our lowest of lows, He is there...

He frees us from our enemies.  In the words of the Psalmist, these were actual people... and they can be with us, too... but He will also free us from oppression, shame, guilt, fear... feelings of self-doubt and lack of worth. 

His love endures forever... 26 verses, 26 times it is repeated, and it is found in numerous other Psalms as well.  His love endures forever... holds on, fights, bears, lasts... forever.  Amen...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rainy Day Blues

I had grand plans for today.  I was going to sleep in, then go out and lounge on a float in the pool, reading a good book and soaking in the sunshine.  Instead, it rained...

So, what's a girl to do when it rains?  There are lots of things to cure the rainy day blues...

Like read.  This morning while Caleb played Sims I read On Folly Beach.  I also made myself read some of War and Peace.  My goal was to finish it this summer.  I'm not sure that I'll make it... Holly assures me that I'll love it once it gets through the war scenes at the beginning.  I'm 14% in (according to my Kindle... that's one thing I like about the e-reader... ) and so far I'm still hung up in all of the Russian names.  Not to mention it speaks some in French... without providing a translation.  Other books I'm reading right now, but didn't read this morning, include The Guestbook, The Island, Skylight Confessions, I Used to be So Organized, Grace for the Good Girl, and Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break.  I know... I know. I've got a book in every room =)

Other things to do on a rainy day? Clean house.  I'm not a master housecleaner by any means, and since I've been working pretty much full-time this summer, I've put off organizing like I wanted to.  However, I have managed to somewhat keep it straightened up.  Today, I did some laundry, dusted a little, and cleaned the bathrooms.

Go to movies.. Caleb and I went and watched Ice Age 4- Continental Drift, and it was  good little movie.  There were times when I laughed out loud, which is always good. 

Nap.  I didn't do this today... but it's on the agenda for tomorrow, especially if it is raining =)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

To Live is Worship

"God never intended for us to refer to church as a building, as He never intended worship to be reduced to a church service.  His church is His people, and worship is what they do."- Emily Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl

Worship is what they do... is it?  Do I devote my Sunday mornings to worship, but live in defeat the rest of the week?  Do you?

"... when the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you, then your living is also your worship." (Freeman)

Your living is your worship...and so I worship God as I hit the snooze button, but somehow manage to wake up to dig into my Chronological Bible, eager to eat His Word, thankful for another day.  I worship God as I drive to town behind the log truck, passing the coal truck, because I have a car to drive and a job to go to and those other people on the road do, too... I worship as I sing along with K-love and think of God's awesomeness and unfailing love.  I worship when I smile at the stranger in the hallway, when I take time to greet those I pass, when I stop and listen to whomever needs to speak.  I worship as I cheer on students as they pass tests and encourage them when they don't.  I worship as I type lecture notes and grade care plans and care for patients in clinical. 

Today, I worshipped as I stepped out of the hospital and breathed in the smell of a summer rain. I worshipped as I laughed with Caleb on the way to town.  I worshipped as I walked in the rain, feeling the drops on my skin and feeling alive.

I am worshipping as I write this... because I'm living, and breathing, and have been blessed.  This moment... it is mine.  Not yesterday, because it's gone.  Not tomorrow, or the next minute, because they've not been promised.  Worship as I live... Giving reverance and honor.  He is good.  He is mighty.  He is sovereign.  And He is mine. 

Join me?  Because He's worthy of our praise....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Little Man

He stands taller than me (well, almost... when he stands on his tiptoes).  His foot is larger than mine.  He's all about spiking his hair and taking pictures with  his tongue stuck out.  At times he infuriates me, and other times he amazes me.

Today, I advised at Lees.  It was a busy day... I probably met with 10 students or so.  At least three of them asked about Caleb.  Two of my co-workers asked about Caleb and mentioned how sweet he was. Brenda, the maintenance woman, asked how "her sweet darling is today".  She never fails to ask about him. He never fails to give her a hug after church on Sunday morning.

Sometimes he's very much a little boy, fighting with Kami and getting mad at me, backtalking and slamming doors, and being selfish.  But then, he's meeting everyone as they come into Walmart and leaving my side to offer hugs, posting prayers on Facebook...and loving like I wish I could love. 

We're all works in progress.  Last night as I was watching a video on the Proverbs 31 woman, he leaned into me, his head on my shoulder, and said, "Is that what a wife and mom is supposed to be like?", which lets me know I've not gotten there yet... but it was  a good teaching opportunity for me to admit that even as an adult (and sometimes because I am an adult) I don't have all the answers and can make things one big ol' mess. 

After all, we're all just God's children...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fight for Your Family

This morning I finished up Session 2 of Kelly Minter's Nehemiah.  It was a powerful lesson.  I never thought I'd enjoy reading about a man rebuilding a wall, but so far it's taught me lots...

That prayer changes things, and that it should always be our first resort.  I've always known this, yet I've struggled.  Something about the bossy older sister causes me to act on my own impulses, and want to fix things my way, which usually leads to me being horribly wrong and God coming to clean up my mess.

I've learned that God wants us to care for others.  Nehemiah cared passionately for those in Jerusalem.  He wanted them to be seen as graceful, not as a disgrace.  His heart broke for their situation.  My heart, too, breaks for certain situations... but in other situations it is cold.  And I was reminded tonight that one of the signs of the last day was hard-heartedness, men (and women) who were lovers of their self).  Lord, soften my heart and break it for what breaks yours.

God is a God of community.  His very purpose of creating us was for relationships. God wants us to work together.  Nehemiah didn't set out to build the wall by himself, which is just what I'd do. "You need some help, Lauren?"  Ummm, "Nah.  I got this, but thanks." And then I mutter and complain under my breath about how hard I'm working while everyone else is having a good time.  God wants us to help each other, encourage each other... pick each other up.  Everyone working on the part of the wall that was theirs, but working together. 

Which brings me to my main lesson. As they started rebuilding the wall, opposition arose.  People complained.  They came against them (anyone hearing this?  Ever felt like it was you against the world?  For them, it was... them against their neighbors.) But Nehemiah said words we should take to heart today,  "After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." Nehemiah 4:14, NIV. 

DO NOT BE AFRAID...  of those who come against you.  Of those who laugh at you.  Of those who lie about you. 
REMEMBER THE LORD... He's the One who created this planet we're spinning on.  He's the All-Sufficient, the Great I AM.  What's He's done in the past, He's going to do for us, too. 

He is great and awesome.  Who is like our God?

Fight for your family... fight against immorality, lies, deceit, Hell's gates opening up against you.  Satan is attacking our families.  Drug abuse.  Anger.  Jealousy.  Cold-heartedness.  Stress and worry and anxiety.  He's coming against our brothers, our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives.  But we don't have to just lay down.  Fight for them.  FIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILIES. 

And after he said that... they started working.  Be inspired, then go to work.  Praying.  Trusting God.  Celebrating community.  And always, always, fighting for what is right and good.  His grace will be sufficient... and I've cheated and read the end of this story.  WE WIN. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Too Much Technology?

One of the books I'm reading is I Used to Be So Organized by Glynnis Whitwer.  I'm learning a lot.  And she's reminding me of things that I knew to be true... but had conveniently forgotten.  Like the fact that the laundry doesn't put itself up.  And that priorities must be determined. 

This week's chapters centered on paper piles and technology.  Here at home, I don't have too much of a problem with paper piles.  I need to organize a few things, but kind of know in my mind how I'd do this... if only I had the time.  Or if I had the initiative.  I'm sure it will come as soon as I finish the book...

But the chapter on technology really hit me hard! I've been "addicted" to facebook for a while now.  I like to play games and keep in touch with old friends.  I've connected with a couple of different Bible Study groups and enjoy getting their perspective... plus it keeps me accountable.  I also like to use Facebook as a way to encourage others and let my light shine.  As I was reading, though, I realized that it may be a little problem...

My big problem is my Iphone.  It's a blessing, and I love it... but it has my email. And facebook.  And games.  And twitter.  And my calendar.  All of which I love... but I feel compelled to check it every time it dings.  And compusively check it. 

So, I'm going public here.  I'm only checking facebook in the morning and night.  I'm going to limit myself to 30-45 minutes each time.  I'm not going to constantly check for notifications.  I don't need that affirmation that people like me... even if I do, I'm going to ignore the need.  And I'm not going to leave my email up... when I'm on the computer, it'll only be what I'm working on.  I'll check email in the morning, mid-day, and at night.  And when I feel the urge to check, I'll look at my to do list and see what I can knock off.

Now that's not saying I won't post during the day... especially if its' something funny Caleb says or does or a good pic.  I'm just not going to let it take over...

So I say tonight.  Now, good night.  I've got to go share this on Facebook ;-)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Sunshine

His presence is here... you just have to be still to feel it. His smile is the sunshine, kissing your skin on a hot summer day. He is so good...
"Smile on me, and teach me your laws"- Psalm 119:135, God's Word translation.

May your Sunday be blessed with much Sonshine and happiness, a nap on the couch, a dip in the pool, light breezes through your hair, a good book and a tall glass of lemonade.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sisterly Love

She's the one who always liked the cats.  Seriously... I never did like them, but she would hug them and pet them and have them eating out of the palm of her hand. And Pugsley and Butch... dog hairs everywhere but she didn't care.  How she cried when Butch died...

She's the one with the infectious laugh.  Her eyes will crinkle up and she laughs from deep within, sometimes so much that the tears run down her face.  How bad was it that Brandon and I used to intentionally make her clutch her sides, saying, "Please stop, I'm going to throw up."

She's the one that noone ever has a bad thing to say about... and why should they?  She listens and is soft-spoken, in comparison to my forceful talking and loud mouth. 

Oh, the memories... of getting peed on the first time I held her (I deserved it in advance...).  Of her toddling steps in the living room, of her lining up all of the Christmas presents and opening them every single one (she doesn't remember.  And I can't remember if I put her up to it or not... I'm betting yes).  Of painting herself blue and of wanting to be an Indian, of a rain dance and a teddy bear bedroom.  Oh, Miss Hollywood and I'm a little teapot at my tee-ball games.  A baseball bat to the head (accidentally) and so many fights I can't count... my red hot temper to her calmness.

Of sharing a bedroom with twin beds, much to my teenage angst.  White blond hair and brown eyes always full of laughter. 

And today... I am overwhelmed.  She was overwhelmed... with the love demonstrated through her wedding shower.  As she opened present after present, I could see it in her eyes.  She teared up a couple of times... but how could she not know? How absolutely wonderful we all think she is?  How special she is to so many people, especially me?  In her 27 years she's had it rough.  I've not always been the best big sister... a little jealous and a little bossy and a lot of giving her a hard time.  She's taken the backseat to my drama.  She's always been happy to ... just be.  Happy she is...But today, as I watched that radiant smile, her joy became my joy. 

That little girl, all grown up and getting married.  Warren is a lucky man... and blessed we are.  Holly Chelle, I'm so looking forward to August 4th!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Random Ramblings

It's late at night and I feel like I've been up for hours but the little boy next to me is just too daggone sweet.  He's downloading music from Itunes and the TV is on and I am feeling like I'm in sensory overload, but then I remember that it's probably just me getting old. I would have liked nothing better than to lay on the couch tonight, even though it's a Friday night, but Caleb had other plans.

Fireworks in Jackson... brings back lots of memories.  Of swinging at Kiwanis Park on the old metal swings or sitting on the merry go round and watching those colors light up the sky.  Walking through True Value parking lot and seeing friends from school, looking forward to meeting up with those I might not have seen for a while.  In years past, we've watched from Monthly Parking... usually with a crowd from the Clemons Clan.  Tonight, though, it isn't even the fourth.  I wasn't really in the fireworks mood, but Caleb would be to go, so off we went.  I was left to fight the crowds by myself... Wallace is off somewhere training.  I was afraid it would be just me and Caleb, but ended up watching with my Mamaw Na.  Papaw Jr. enjoyed the show from the van.  I'm sure he was really watching the back of his eye lids. 

A night of that boy sitting next to me, one who is quickly growing up into a manchild.  Sitting next to my grandma... and also talking to everyone around.  So much like his daddy.   And as he talked to those around us, I listened... to Miles, now 3 but still a baby to me, chatter about the hills catching on fire and fireworks going "Boom"... talking a mile a minute.  Reminding me that life is precious, and before we know it they grow up...

Tonight I've been thinking a lot about sacrifice.  I'm not really happy about Wallace having to leave all the time.  I miss him like crazy, even though I know he's probably glad to get a break.  But then I think about the real reason the 4th of July is so special... families like mine, and little boys, getting to watch fireworks in freedom.  Because of brave men and women... who sacrifice.  Sure, Wallace is only gone this weekend.  One weekend a month... and he'll have to go for an extended training later on... but there are others who are gone for months.  Young men who I remember in grade school... in some foreign land protecting and serving for my freedom... regardless of your feelings about whether Afghanistan is any of our business, they serve.  And even if they weren't in any danger, they are still giving their time... time from their families, time from their lives. 

So thank you... Thanks to Wallace, who sacrifices so I don't have to.  And thanks for all in the service, and their families.  Tonight, as the imprint of those red, white, and blue fireworks are still in my vision, I'm appreciating them just a little bit more... for you.   God Bless America...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Language of God

That still small voice... oh, how I long to hear it whisper.  There is nothing like knowing you are in God's presence.  Tonight, I had church on the way home from Zumba.  I had Klove on, and there was a slight mist on the windshield from the recent rain which we so desperately needed.  A fog drifted up to the mountains and at that moment, all was right with the world.  Nicole C. Mullen was singing "My Redeemer Lives" and I could feel it all the way to my bones...

This morning, I sat in my living room having my quiet time.  I've been trying to do it more diligently this year, and thus far I've done ok.  Oh, I have days when I miss, or days when I just zone out and don't even remember what I've read.  Those are the days that are the toughest, when I don't allow God to permeate me and get into my marrow.  The days when I make Him a part of my to do list and then leave Him on the sofa along with my Bible. 

In this week's reading of Grace for the Good Girl, Freeman addresses just that. How quiet time really shouldn't be just a few minutes we set aside in the morning. "Quiet time is no longer something I do. Rather, it is a description of what happens when I am with God."  The ocean pouding the sand on a beach isn't quiet... but it's probably where I feel God the most.  The thunder we heard this afternoon wasn't quiet, but it was evidence of God in the Heavens.  A hummingbird isn't quiet... a bubbling mountain creek isn't quiet (oh, how I wish we had water in our stream)... Caleb isn't quiet... but these are all gifts of God.

Freeman goes on to discuss how our quiet time helps us develop Christ within us... which is our only hope.  The more time we spend with Him, just being... the more likely we are to have Him within us visible, illuminating us from the inside so that the world can see Him.  Then, she writes something that deeply resonated within me, something that I've been thinking on for the rest of the day.  It's a quote from Kenneth S. Weust, "The Holy Ghost speaks to us through His Word.  If we don't know it, He can't communicate with us." 

There it is... God's secret language isn't really a secret at all.  It's right there in black and white, and red in some translations.  His Word is living... His Word is mighty and powerful.  And His Word, His love letter to us, is how He helps us in daily life.  Now this may not be a revelation to you, but it makes perfect sense to me.  Quiet time isn't necessarily about being quiet, or checking off my Chronological Bible, or reading a passage.  Quiet time is about digging into His Word and burying it within us... chewing it up and savoring it as we swallow it down, because once that Word gets in us, His Spirit, the Comforter, is able to communicate and minister to us.  If we have His Word within us, the Spirit has control and Christ is able to show out... because we are dead to the flesh.  With His Word, we have a weapon for anything that comes against us. 

Lord, help me to meditate on Your Word.  Hide it in my heart and use it to use me.  You are good, and worthy to be praised.  Full of grace, for this girl who maybe isn't so good after all...

grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On Freedom and Flying... Sort of

This morning I crossed something off my bucket list.  Wallace and I went ziplining at Red River Gorge (although I still didn't think it was at the gorge.  I don't think of the gorge when I think of Cliffview Resorts, but regardless...)

Wallace and I have been together for a long time... it's been 12 years of ups and downs in our marriage.  In 12 years, we've both done a lot of growing up and changing and that's part of marriage, adjusting to those changes.  Some couples never do.  Some couples decide it's not worth it.  We're still holding on, so I guess that's good...

Anyway, we don't get to do a whole lot of stuff just the two of us.  Add Caleb to the mix, and then there's usually ballgames or work or church or me running to volunteer at something or Wallace just running...  Seems like there's never enough time in the day to do what we want to get accomplished, and in this season of our lives, we've just been focusing on other stuff.  Guys may not think this is a big deal, but girls tend to overanalyze... and Wallace says I worry about stuff that I never should.  So this morning we set out and drove to the gorge and took a leap of faith.

I'm a big chicken.  Wallace isn't afraid of anything.  I wasn't always like this.  I can remember being a little girl and climbing trees in my Mamaw's yard.  I'd climb on top of the house to hang Christmas lights and walk in the creek in the middle of the summer and never think about snakes.  Maybe it's not so much that I wasn't afaid, just that I never really thought about the danger in things.  Today, though, as I stood on the first platform that wasn't even that high off the ground, my brain was racing.  I really wanted to do this... to say that I hadn't been afraid and to experience the feeling of flying through the air.  But I was so out of my comfort zone...

So I made Wallace go ahead of me.  Because somehow knowing he'd be on the platform when I got finished made it ok.  He accused me a couple of weeks ago of being comfortable... and I'm guilty.  Because even though he has his flaws,  he's still my safety net,  I am comfortable, because I know that regardless, he'll catch me if I fall.  He might give me a good talking to as he's helping me back up, but nonetheless pull me up he will.

So on 3 of the 5 zips, he went before me.  By the last 2, which were 250 ft off the ground, I was able to open my eyes and actually enjoy it.  The blue skies above me, the green trees below me, the wind hitting my face, the sun warm (ok... it was hot.  Let's be realistic)... God's glory and splendor at its finest.  And so we raced... but I still let him jump first. 

And it's been that way our whole marriage, I've just never really given in to admitting it.  That's the way that it's supposed to be.  "Wives, submit to your husband" isn't necessarily a bad thing... as long as he's leading you in the right direction.

Today, on Independence Day, I had an epiphany.  Freedom is really about not having fear.... whether it is fear of a dictator or fear of self-doubt.  Our freedom was bought by the ultimate price of men and women years ago, and today who are still fighting.  America is truly beautiful...and today I experienced it first hand, flying over the trees.  Complete and utter freedom... with my safety net waiting =)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Understanding to the Simple

I've just started a study on Nehemiah... just completed week 1.  Beth Moore is actually leading it over at her blog.  Before we started, she invited us to pray Psalms 119:129-135 over our study.  I've been taking this passage verse by verse and meditating on it throughout the day. 

Psalm 119:129-  "Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them."  Isn't His testimonies... stories, evidence, proof... wonderful?  He is good... so everything about Him is good.  Sunshine.  Rain. Laughing with Caleb.  Time with Wallace.  My salvation... testimonies of His goodness.  My soul keeps them... Hides them within and thinks about them on days when I don't feel like I can go on.

Psalm 119:130, "The entrance of thy Word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple."  When God's Word is involved, there is no darkness.  It doesn't creep up... as soon as it hits the doorpost, things are illuminated.  He radiates, so that we can see the way.  And I loved that last line... giveth understanding to the simple.  Don't you just feel simple sometimes?  I know I do.  Things in this world are hard.  They are crazy confusing.  I just don't understand.. but I'm not necessarily supposed to understand it all.  The good news is, He's given me what I need.  And when I'm confused or feeling dumb, He gives me understanding.  He illuninates me with knowledge and wisdom. 

God's good.  And I'm praising Him tonight =)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Halfway already?

I am amazed that it is already July.  Seems like the older I get, the faster time goes by.  I think it's because we are so busy, and we spend our lives like hamsters on a wheel... run, run, run but never getting anywhere. 

Anyway, I started 2012 hoping it'd be the best year ever and for the most part it has been a good year.  I thought it'd be a good idea to sit down and look at how I've progressed this year, considering that I still have a half of a year to go to dig in my heels and do better.

One thing I wanted to concentrate on was being a better person... a better Mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend... you get the point. I've never really been good at relationships... give me a book and I'm happy.  Characters in a book can't talk back and don't get mad at you.  I do think as I look over this year I'm doing some better.  My house is a little cleaner than at the beginning of the year and most days I'm more patient.  I'm a somewhat better listener, although I do still have a tendency to over react...

I also wanted to lose some weight and on this one I've actually gone backward and gained... but I have been walking and I got to go to Zumba tonight (yay!) so hopefully I can correct this and still reach this goal by 2013.  I want to be healthier and exercise more... at least 5 days a week.  My marathon running man has inspired me, but not enough to actually run.  However, I do know that exercise is a stress reliever and can be a good time for reflection... I just need to make it a priority.  It's easy to get caught up in all I need to do and my to do list and push exercise out of the way.  And with this hot weather... it's awfully easy to make excuses.  I am getting more rest, not stayin up all the night and getting up at a somewhat consistent time.  (I still am not a morning person... but I have been getting up and spending at least 15 minutes in God's Word and collecting my thoughts before I head out the door.  It's helped)

Other goals- I've not written in my blog or taken a pic every day... but I've come close.  I laugh every day... with Caleb around, it's kind of hard not to.  I am truly trying to make every minute count.  Tracking my 1000 gifts through the Joy Dare has helped me open my eyes to how blessed I am.  I've completed two Bible studies (goal is 4) and just got started on Kelly Minter's Nehemiah.  I've read 46 books (my goal is 75... more on those books later).  I'm trying to be more organized (Am currently reading I Used to Be So Organized to get some tips).

So, thus far, 2012 has been a good year.  I'm planning to do what I can to finish with a bang.  And most importantly, I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't... because no matter how I do, His grace is sufficient =)

Sunday, July 1, 2012


grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman

*I'd just like to say that I thought it was pretty cool... wrote this this morning in Word before church because my internet wasn't up. Then, went to church and listened to a message about being covered by the blood.  God is good =)

In reading Grace for the Good Girl, I was again amazed by how well the author described me without even knowing me.  Apparently these problems of hiding behind the masks are common, though, because as I read through the Facebook page, comments resonated deep within me.  What strikes me is that this hiding begins at a young age… and has been going on for a long time.

Freeman discusses in Chapter 10 of her book that the earliest hiding was in the Garden, immediately after Adam and Eve partook in the fruit.  You know the story, how they covered themselves the best they could and then hid when God called them.  Really, guys?  You’re hiding from God, your Omnipotent Creator?  Um…. Hello!  But don’t I do the same thing? 

They hid because they knew they were guilty.  Freeman then discusses the difference between guilt and shame.  Guilt can actually be a good thing… unless we let it linger.  Then, deep within the recesses of our soul, our mind tells us that because we are guilty, we aren’t good. We aren’t acceptable.  Shame starts to worm its way into our heart… and then we go bury ourselves.  Dig a hole in the sand and stick our head in it.  Or at least I do.  Denial is one of my number one ways of dealing with shame. 

As I mentioned, shame begins at an early age.  It has prevented me from trying new things, because I automatically place my previous performance up to what I believe I will do on whatever it is.  Shame keeps me apologizing when I have no one that needs an apology. Shame keeps me constantly looking for ways to prove myself, and then finding myself full of more shame because I don’t measure up.  As a young child, shame kept me from making new friends and kept me on the sidelines during school dances.  Shame… shame on me. 

In Christ, there is no condemnation.  No shame.  Yes, we are guilty of sins, but they have been redeemed by Christ.  It’s kind of like my husband… I’ve learned all about having no shame by being married to him.  Wallace truly has no shame.  He doesn’t apologize for who he is, and isn’t afraid to talk to anyone.  He is anxious to try new things, and doesn’t care if he doesn’t do great at them.  When you are confident in yourself, you don’t have as much shame… shame beats down your confidence and then eventually places doubt in its place.  We are to have confidence in Christ… knowing that He has it covered.  Literally.  Covered by the blood… and we don’t have to be shamed.